Pop Some Tags! The $20 Thrift Shop Challenge

Inspired by Macklemore’s platinum chart-busting hit, “Thrift Store,” the Style Team set out to find a swagger-worthy ensemble from local area thrift stores.  All for $20 in our pocket.

The first in this series is from moi, Dennise Smith.

I have been a thrift shop affectionato since I was in my early teens, although most of my compliment-inspiring pieces have come from vintage consignment shops.  As anyone familiar with vintage will know, it  is not exactly thrifty.  Twenty dollars will maybe get you a skirt.  :-(   So, for this challenge, I chose the West Side’s Goodwill and the Past N’ Present Clothing Store on the East End to search for my outfit.

Here is what I got for my $20 — an entire outfit minus the size 11 shoes!


My Frenchie-Secretary look from Goodwill and Past N Present Clothing.

My Frenchie-Secretary look from Goodwill and Past N Present Clothing.

The breakdown:

  • Assymetrical Skirt from Goodwill – $4.00
  • Black Gathered Boat Neck Shirt from Past N Present – $5.00
  • Scarf  from Past N Present (YAY! I am totally in love with this pink and red printed scarf) – $2.00
  • Cherry Colored Belt  from Past N Present- $1.00
  • Red Enamel Hoop Earrings from Past N Present (these were new!) – $4.00

While I was hoping to find something really cheeky to wear that really pushed the fashion envelope, I was nevertheless quite pleased with my finds. (I am saving that one for another day, chicas!)   I ended up wearing this outfit to work and received three compliments!  Better yet,  I came in a few dollars UNDER budget, so there was money left over for a coffee at Moxie’s.  Shabanga!

Stay tuned for other style team members’ “Poppin’ Tags” outfits! I can’t wait!

For those of you new to thrift shop buying, here are a few tips:

  • These stores are great places to find basics items such as black skirts and slacks and shells to wear under your suits.  Lately, I have been seeing some really good quality denim, as well.
  • Like Gabriel brothers, you have to go to thrift stores often and regularly to find the best deals.  I have bought skirts still with their tags on them from Ann Taylor and one from Lily Pulitzer!  What a steal those were!
  • Know when a soiled garment can be cleaned and when it cannot.  Deodorant or regular ole dirt can be cleaned.  Coffee and wine stains cannot.
  • Check the seams of pants and skirts for excessive wear and stretching.  If you can see the stitches when you pull the fabric, put the garment back.  Similarly, saggy knees are just gonna stay saggy, so pass on them.
  • Unless you are a sewer of at least considerable skill, make sure the zipper works (i.e. slides SMOOTHLY up and down).
  • Don’t be put off by a skirt or dress that is too long if it fits well and the fabric feels nice.  Shortening a skirt or dress is an easy fix and most anyone with a sewing machine (or those who are adept with a sewing needle) can do it.
  • Also, even though hear 80’s style power suits and blouses are poised to make a comeback, a heavy shoulder pad is quite easy to remove and replace with a thinner one.

Anyone else have any thrift-store buying tips or great finds to share?



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  1. Sara - September 6, 2013

    I love thrift stores, although I am unable to visit as much as I’d like due to their hours. However, I have found some great finds at Goodwill including a gently used New York & Company sundress that I wear ALL the time since it’s black and white and I can mix it up with different accessories. I also have a Marshall University fleece jacket that I snagged for $6 two years ago. It had fell to the floor and was covered in dirt, but like you mentioned, I stuck it in the wash and it came out looking brand new. If you know what you’re looking for and pay attention, you can really snag some amazing deals at thrift stores!

  2. Tracy Herz - September 8, 2013

    You look great. As you know, I can go through a thrift store like The Predator. Way to go! Love it!

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